‘No, I don’t think that our problem is that our productivity as content producers isn’t growing fast enough; it’s that print media’s value as ad distributors is falling faster than their writing productivity is growing. Baumol’s cost disease may be a problem for other industries, but for print, the problem is simply that costs cannot fall fast enough to cope with the declining value of our ads.’
As Charlie Martin pointed out, a lot of this is really just a numbers game to capitalize and monetize new technology:
‘Does that mean there’s no market for news? Certainly not, any more than the fact that reality TV is ad supported means that there’s no market for reality TV. But when Google can sell a better targeted ad for 0.00001 the cost per targeted reader, the on-paper business model is not going to survive. People who want to do news are going to need to find a model that works.’
Outlets like Gawker and Buzzfeed are finding success, generating massive traffic, and can grow longer-form journalism should they choose. Whatever you may think of their content, these sites have found ways to capitalize and monetize the latest trends, memes and opinion. Advertisers follow eyeballs so the entire market can be affected.
Naturally, people working in media and/or working to have influence in media have always been dependent upon technology for their relevance, so they’d better stay competitive. Obviously, news-gathering institutions have always relied on a certain amount of sensationalism and celebrity-worship.
Yet, who’s going to fund informed, experienced, sourced journalism that takes time and money to produce?
I find myself thinking more like a populist these days: I’d rather pay for good journalism and acts of journalism myself than have a nationalized news outlet or a few congealed outlets at the top like the days of yore. Quixotic? Maybe, but the quality and kind of journalism we have can very much depend on how we vote with our dollars.
For what, if anything, are you willing to pay?
Would you pay every time you read a good piece?
Would you subscribe and then forget about it for a year, never quite getting around to canceling your subscription?
Here’s a photo of the First Amendment on the Newseum’s facade:
From The Atlantic: “Information May Want To Be Free. But Not Journalism”..Jack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’…From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die?